A United Airlines flight across the Atlantic Ocean was forced to plunge 28,000 feet over ten minutes due to a cabin pressurization issue yesterday. Modern commercial airliners are designed to survive and stay aloft after a multitude of complications. These heavy multi-engine aircraft are even rated to fly with only a single powerplant. However, the passengers are still human. We need oxygen to breathe and our immediate environment needs to be a survivable temperature.
United Airlines Flight 510 was scheduled to fly to Rome–Fiumicino International Airport in Italy from Newark-Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. According to CNN, the flight crew reported a cabin pressurization issue with their Boeing 777 45 minutes into the flight. The pilots rapidly descended from 37,000 feet down to 9,000 feet over Nova Scotia. Thankfully, the Boeing safely returned to Newark just after midnight without any injuries or losing cabin pressure.
United Airlines placed the 270 passengers on a replacement aircraft, leaving Newark six hours later. United inspected Flight 510’s Boeing 777 but couldn’t find an issue with the cabin pressurization system. The airline has stated that it will investigate further to determine the incident’s root cause.
A different United Airlines Boeing 777 was involved in a dramatic incident a few years ago. United Flight 328 suffered an engine failure where the turbine caught fire and showered debris over Denver. Flight 510’s Boeing was fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines similar to Flight 328. Boeing and Pratt & Whitney had strengthened the engine’s components after the failure.